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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stranded Valley pair rescued by local samaritans

Story and photos by Guy Lewis

Around noon on Dec. 30, one of Gila County's finest diverted a grandmother and a seven-year-old birthday boy driving a two wheel drive Ford Fusion, east on Houston Mesa road.

Destination: the Control Road north towards Pine.

Reason for diversion: Arizona Highway 87 north of Payson was closed due to the heavy snow.

At about 1:20 p.m., Anne Theocharides of Mesa and her grandson Braeden Dusseault were found crossways along the road – nose pinned to the rock face of the hill they were trying to climb and the rear of the Ford Fusion against the snowbank to the east.

Gery Zimmerman and Robert White of Pine, E.J. Sandoval of Tempe, and Austin Wilbanks were slowing making their way north towards Pine in their 4-wheel drive pickup trucks when they rounded the bend north of the bridge at the Camp Geronimo turnoff. The four men worked for a little less then an hour turning Anne’s ford around and headed south - back to Payson.

Anne explained that today was Braeden’s seventh birthday and he wanted to visit his dad, David Dusseault, and maternal grandparents, Dave and Brenda Bigge, who were camping along the Control Road this week.

Had it not been for the chance meeting with the four men heading north, Anne and Braeden might still be pinned in the snow covered hills along the Control Road.

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